Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home Is Where the Hawk Is

The red-shouldered hawk is a native, medium-to-large hawk of forested habitat with a definite affinity for water. It is not unusual to observe it perching near a pond or river or swamp, eyes peeled for the slightest movement that might betray the location of its next meal.

But when that perch and pond happen to be located in the midst of one of the largest commercial and residential developments in the Triangle area of North Carolina, we pause to reflect on some of our long-held notions about "the wild" and "nature" and " the natural environment." 

A quick glance at our surroundings reveals hundreds of apartments and condominiums within sight of this little pond. The development is bisected by a small but busy street, upon which several dozen cars pass during the ten minutes or so we spend observing this impressive wild creature. 
This is not the wild. 
It is not nature. 
It would be a stretch to call it a natural environment for anything other than yuppies. 

In this drastically modified environment, it is difficult not to imagine the hawk as a visitor, a wanderer, even an intruder in this carefully planned and constructed human development.
A slightly more generous view might identify the wild animal as a straggler, a solitary remnant of a once-wild place that lagged a bit too far behind the herd and found itself abandoned, left to its own devices in an altered and decidedly unnatural landscape.

But sitting here eye to eye and face to face with this magnificent and formidable predator, our view is altered. 

This animal is not lost or abandoned, neither is it visiting or intruding.

It is living.

 This pond, this space, this scattering of trees, all of this place is its home, just as it has been home to countless generations of red-shouldered hawks before. 

Face to face, and eye to eye, we wonder. 
We wonder at this marvelous creature and the wild, untamed spirit that peers back at us from those deep, dark eyes, 
and suddenly we are the visitors, the wanderers.
Face to face, and eye to eye, 
we marvel at its beauty, its intelligence, strength, and tenacity;
we marvel at its grace and patience and remarkable aplomb in the face of camera-toting intruders in its ancestral home.
We marvel and we wonder and we recognize a fellow traveler, 
a survivor, adapting to relentless changes in its environment, undaunted, 
alert and ready for the challenges that accompany this and every new day;
and we feel right at home...

Thanks to Jay Randolph for sharing his hawk pictures for this post.

1 comment:

  1. These photos are absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing. You and Henry, as well as your dad, taught me so much about many parts of the natural world. The hawk was among them. Before going to Hillmon Grove I never even noticed birds and such.